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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

Questions about our old analysis of police stops

I received this anonymous email: I read your seminal work on racial bias in stops with Professors Fagan and Kiss and just had a few questions. 1. Your paper analyzed stops at the precinct level. A critique I have heard regarding aggregating data at that level is that: “To say that the threshold test can […]

A fill-in-the-blanks contest: Attributing the persistence of the $7.25 minimum wage to “the median voter theorem” is as silly as _______________________

My best shots are “attributing Napoleon’s loss at Waterloo to the second law of thermodynamics” or “attributing Michael Jordan’s 6 rings to the infield fly rule.” But these aren’t right at all. I know youall can do better. Background here. For some relevant data, see here, here, here, and here. P.S. I get it that […]

In making minimal corrections and not acknowledging that he made these errors, Rajan is dealing with the symptoms but not the underlying problem, which is that he’s processing recent history via conventional wisdom.

Raghuram Rajan is an academic and policy star, University of Chicago professor, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, and former chief economic advisor to the government of India, and featured many times in NPR and other prestige media. He also appears to be in the habit of telling purportedly data-backed stories that aren’t […]

State-level predictors in MRP and Bayesian prior

Something came up in comments today that I’d like to follow up on. In our earlier post, I brought up an example: If you’re modeling attitudes about gun control, think hard about what state-level predictors to include. My colleagues and I thought about this a bunch of years ago when doing MRP for gun-control attitudes. […]

Some issues when using MRP to model attitudes on a gun control attitude question on a 1–4 scale

Elliott Morris writes: – I want to run a MRP model predicting 4 categories of response options to a question about gun control (multinomial logit) – I want to control for demographics in the standard hierarchical way (MRP) – I want the coefficients to evolve in a random walk over time, as I have data […]

Understanding the value of bloc voting, using the Congressional Progressive Caucus as an example:

Daniel Stock writes: I’m a public policy PhD student, interested in economic policy and a bit of political science. I recently saw that the Congressional Progressive Caucus instituted bloc voting rules a few months ago: if at least two thirds of them agree on a bill or amendment, then all CPC members are bound to […]

This one’s for all the Veronica Geng fans out there . . .

I recently read Joseph Lanza’s excellent book from 1994, “Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Musak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong.” I’ll have more to say about this book in a future post, but for now I just had to share this bit I noticed on page 53: Lyndon Baines Johnson owned Muzak franchises in Austin […]

“America Has a Ruling Class”

I agree with these points made by Samuel Goldman: America’s most powerful people have a problem. They can’t admit that they’re powerful. Take Andrew Cuomo. On a recent call with reporters, the embattled Mr. Cuomo insisted that he was “not part of the political club.” The assertion was confounding because Mr. Cuomo is in his […]

Call for a moratorium on the use of the term “prisoner’s dilemma”

Palko writes: I’m not sure what the best way to get the ball rolling here would be (perhaps a kickstarter?) but we need to have a strictly enforced rule that no journalist or pundit is allowed to mention the prisoner’s dilemma for the next five or ten years, however long it takes to learn to […]

Question on multilevel modeling reminds me that we need a good modeling workflow (building up your model by including varying intercepts, slopes, etc.) and a good computing workflow

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes: Lacking proper experience with multilevel modeling, I have a question regarding a nation-wide project on hospital mortality that I’ve recently come into contact with. The primary aim of the project is to benchmark hospital performances in terms of mortality (binary outcome) while controlling for “case mix”, that is, […]

“Death and Lockdowns”

Flavio Bartmann points to this post by John Tierney criticizing lockdown policies for coronavirus, which begins: Now that the 2020 figures have been properly tallied, there’s still no convincing evidence that strict lockdowns reduced the death toll from Covid-19. But one effect is clear: more deaths from other causes, especially among the young and middle-aged, […]

Whassup with the haphazard coronavirus statistics?

Peter Dorman writes: This piece by Robinson Meyer and Alexis Madrigal on the inadequacy of Covid data is useful but frustrating. I think they could have dispensed with the self-puffery, rhetoric and sweeping generalizations and been more detailed about data issues. Nevertheless the core point is one that you and others have stressed, that too […]

Huge partisan differences in who wants to get vaccinated

Jonathan Falk writes: This piece by Noah Rothman argues (appropriately hedged “It’s just one poll, and the breakdown of subsamples to the narrowest possible margins forces us to be cautious when citing the findings” which is always something good to see) that vaccine hesitancy, which shows a pronounced Republican/Democratic split may not be a Republican/Democratic […]

Answers to your questions about polling and elections.

1. David Callaway writes: I read elsewhere (Kevin Drum) that the response rate to telephone polling is around 5%. It seems to me that means you are no longer dealing with a random sample, what you have instead is a self selected pool. I understand that to an extent you can correct a model for […]

Postdoctoral opportunity with Sarah Cowan and Jennifer Hill: causal inference for Universal Basic Income (UBI)

See below from Sarah Cowan: I write to announce the launch of the Cash Transfer Lab. Our mission is to build an evidence base regarding cash transfer policies like a Universal Basic Income. We answer the fundamental questions of how a Universal Basic Income policy would transform American families, communities and economies. The first major […]

How much granularity do you need in your Mister P?

Matt Kosko writes: I had a question for you about the appropriate number of groups in an MRP model. I’m currently working on streamlining some of the code we use to estimate state-level political opinions from our surveys. I have state-level predictors and Census data for poststratification (i.e., population totals in each age-sex-state-education cell), but […]

A Bayesian state-space model for the German federal election 2021 with Stan

I didn’t do anything on this, just stood still and listened while others talked. I’ll share the whole thread with you, just to give you a sense of how these research conversations go. This post is for you if: – You’re interested in MRP, or – You’re interested in German elections, or – You want […]

The social sciences are useless. So why do we study them? Here’s a good reason:

Back when I taught at Berkeley, you could always get a reaction from the students by invoking Stanford. The funny thing is, though, if you’re at Stanford and mention Berkeley, nobody cares. You have to bring up Harvard to get a reaction. Similarly, MIT students have a chip on their shoulder about Harvard, but Harvard […]

“From Socrates to Darwin and beyond: What children can teach us about the human mind”

This talk is really interesting. I like how she starts off with the connections between psychological essentialism and political polarization, as an example of the importance of these ideas in so many areas of life.

Statistical fallacies as they arise in political science (from Bob Jervis)

Bob Jervis sends along this fun document he gives to the students in his classes. Enjoy. Theories of International Relations Assume that all the facts and assertions in these paragraphs are correct. Why do the conclusions not follow? (This does not mean that the conclusions are actually false.) What are the alternative explanations for the […]

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